Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thursday's Children - Inspired by Roald Dahl

I had a conversation with a co-worker on Monday that lead to this post.  Just a bit of background…

My co-worker (we’ll call her Katherine) has three small children, but this specifically centered around her eight year old daughter (we’ll call her Fiona).  We were having a conversation about something else and it made me think of a scene from Matilda, one of my favorite Roald Dahl books.  I told Katherine this and explained the scene, and was met with a blank stare. 

“Have you ever read Matilda?” I asked.


“Have you ever seen the movie?” I asked.


“What about The Witches?”  Another of my favorite Roald Dahl books.


Okay, so, no reading of any Roald Dahl books.  I was shocked but I persevered.  I decided to ask if Fiona had read any of them.  She’s eight but I know that she reads at a fifth grade level.  I figured her teacher might have suggested one of those books (or even her own dad who teaches fifth grade).  Nothing, Fiona had never read any of them.  Now, maybe she’s a little young; but with her reading level, I don't think so.  The conversation then turned into my co-worker asking me what other Roald Dahl books Fiona should read and a list was made. 

What surprised me about all of this was the fact that she was so unfamiliar with his books.  (This story is taking a while, but I have a point, I promise.  Hang in there.)  It did make me glad to see that while my co-worker might not be a big reader, she encourages her daughter who loves it.

Then, I started thinking about this in terms of other conversations I’ve had with this person.  There was one in particular that involved her sister’s wish list on Amazon and a birthday present.  “She has three seasons of Doctor Who on here.  I am NOT buying her those.”  (I won’t even go into how mortally offended I was by her dismissal of Doctor Who.)  I realized the bigger issue; there seems to be a lack of imagination here - no whimsy, no make believe. 

Now, I’m not trying to be mean, I’m really not (although I’m sure it sounds like it).  She is a very nice person and I like working with her; we just couldn't be more different in many ways.  It’s more like I’m just now coming to the realization that not everyone grew up in a house like I did where we read books by Roald Dahl and Tolkien and with a mom obsessed with dragons and fairies.  Imagination was encouraged and was just…sort of…taken for granted I suppose.

So, what does all of this have to do with inspiration?

It inspires me to use my imagination even more than I currently do.  I feel like imagination is slipping away from society in a lot of ways and I find that scary.  Nothing is spontaneous anymore; everything is planned to within an inch of its life.  You don’t see kids just running around outside making up stories, wearing bath towels as capes.  At least, not in my little sphere of the world.  Everyone is so obsessed with succeeding or being the best, they ignore being creative.  As my husband would say, “No one’s fun anymore!”

So, I’m inspired by Roald Dahl who had a wonderful imagination and built worlds where kids saved the day.  I’m inspired to be more creative and try new things.  I’m inspired to find ways to get others to use their imagination.  And mostly, I’m inspired to never let my own imagination die.  To live without it would be, well, unimaginable.

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